Video game: Legal fun or gambling?

A lawsuit is headed to trial over whether a barroom video game called “Bank Shot” is legal amusement or an illegal form of gambling. A Lancaster County judge rejected a motion last week by attorneys for the Nebraska Department of Revenue to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Bellevue manufacturers of Bank Shot. District Judge Steven Burns ruled that the state had failed to clearly prove the game violated state laws that, with a couple of exceptions, prohibit games of chance that grant prizes. Burns, in fact, wrote that his attempt to understand the exact nature of Bank Shot with the evidence presented to him had proven “fruitless.” “In a full trial, the court will have the opportunity to actually examine the game and more fully understand its nature,” he added.

A three-day trial is scheduled to begin June 7. The Bank Shot controversy began last year when the state confiscated several machines, claiming they were illegal. American Amusements Co. responded with a lawsuit aimed at obtaining a court order stating that Bank Shot is a legal game of skill. The state countersued, maintaining that it is an illegal game of chance. The video game costs up to $4 to play. A series of spinning or moving balls appear on the screen. Players attempt to solve a puzzle by hitting a “stop” button to place a “wild” ball in the correct location. Jackpots of up to $17,000 are possible. A Bank Shot website states there are currently 429 machines across the state at 143 locations. 

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